Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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chirpchirp 03-08-2013 10:54 PM

Best way to clean sand?
Hello fish fanatics,
I am wondering what is the best way to clean sand without to much disruption of a tank. All of my tanks have sand in them as substrate and I am wondering what is the most effective and efficient way to get rid of the waste/poop build up on the sand? I have tried a couple of things but I am sure that there is a better way!
Any suggestions, hints or tips would be greatly appreciated :)


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MoneyMitch 03-08-2013 11:17 PM

dont think theres really a "easy" way to go about it, all ive ever done is get the siphon as close to the sand as you can and that will suck up all the loose nastys.

chirpchirp 03-08-2013 11:24 PM

the syphon I have is a gravel one as I used to have gravel in the tanks is it the same deal or smaller maybe?
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jeaninel 03-08-2013 11:28 PM

You can use the same syphon. Just hover it over the sand about 1/2" and it will suck up debri on top. Not hard at all.
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Sanguinefox 03-09-2013 12:01 AM

One of the best ways I know of to clean sand is to use your fingers and lightly stir up the sand on top. This causes organics to suspend in the water and the fall down/settle. Then you can take something like a python, or a gravel vac, hold it above the sand and suck up the organics but not the sand itself.

jaysee 03-09-2013 12:35 AM


Originally Posted by chirpchirp (Post 1460627)
the syphon I have is a gravel one as I used to have gravel in the tanks is it the same deal or smaller maybe?
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They are one and the same. However, i would suggest removing the vac tube part. All you need is the hose - you'll get better suction that way and will be easier to get specific spots. Often, waste will collect in certain spots.

Weak filtration and circulation also contributes to waste build up in the tank, as does over feeding.

chirpchirp 03-09-2013 08:09 AM

The tank is all good with filtration / circulation and I probably slightly underfed but its from the snails mostly I think, they eat fish poop but not their own unfortunately.
I shall give it a go, thanks for the advice guys sounds easier than what i've been doing :)
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JDM 03-09-2013 08:13 AM

1 Attachment(s)
I bought the narrowest vac I could find, see pic. It's a python product. It works great but the only issue is if I try to pickup dead leaves, sometimes they get stuck in the hose.

I wave the end of the tube over the area I want to clean, any crap gets stirred up I just suck it up while its suspended. I actually have so very little detritus build up that I have all but stopped trying to stir it up anymore. I just go around the dead spots, corners and beside the rock and around the driftwood. I honestly would have expected that over twenty fish would produce more crap based on what others say about their tanks.


chirpchirp 03-09-2013 09:02 AM

That looks like a good one mine is much wider probably the standard gravel vac size i'm not sure. I'll have to hunt down a narrower one.
My fish don't produce too much waste either but none the less I find my current methods rather tedious but I like the idea of a narrower tube would be much easier to pin point dead areas instead of drawing too much up at once.
Still tricky around plants but no doubt the narrower tube will make it a bit easier too
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AbbeysDad 03-09-2013 11:03 AM

The gravel siphon, hovered and/or swirled just above the surface is your best method of removing mulm...if you need to. However, if you have rooted plants, don't over look that this material makes excellent organic fertilizer for those plants as it feeds the substrate bio-filter.
If there is larger plant waste that may clog the siphon hose, I'll sometimes swirl a fishnet to collect it prior to using the gravel siphon.

Some feel that mulm on the substrate is a sign of insufficient circulation or filter flow but this material that settles is best kept out of the filter. Why? IMHO, because the filter with high velocity water flow and decomposition bacteria very quickly erodes, dissolves and converts this material into dissolved organic compounds (DOCs) that pollute the water column. Excess DOCs encourage an abundance of unwanted heterotrophic bacteria and if not cloudy, water that has a yellow or brown tinge and sometimes a fishy or foul odor. The filter is best reserved for collection of suspension 'floaters' and purifying the water.

If/when left on the substrate, mulm decomposes very slowly and feeds the substrate beneficial biology that in turn feeds any rooted plants OR is very easily siphoned away during weekly water changes.

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